I cut way back on my consumption of meats mostly for sustainability reasons. Living in an area where restaurants with grass fed and antibiotic-free meats are few and far between, I decided not to take the chance. But a new study says that even vegetarians may not be safe from an ample serving of antibiotics.According to Environmental Science News, two studies at the University of Minnesota said that crops absorb the antibiotics in soil that was previously the site of livestock. It seems our society is becoming so overwhelmed by antibiotics that even vegetarians can't escape. But to be fair, it's not just vegetarians that are getting a bad hand here. Green eaters that look for antibiotic-free meats are now getting them in places that they would never expect.
"Around 90 percent of these drugs that are administered to animals end up being excreted either as urine or manure," said Holly Dolliver, a member of the Minnesota research team and now a professor of crop and soil sciences at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. "A vast majority of that manure is then used as an important input for 9.2 million hectares of (U.S.) agricultural land."
In the first study in 2005, chlortetracycline was found in the manure treated soil where researchers planted corn, lettuce, and potatoes. Chlortetracycline is an antibiotic used to treat livestock. Later on in another study in 2007, sulfamethazine, another widely used antibiotic was found in manure treated soil.
The study said that while foods that are often highly processed like corn seem to escape the onslaught of chemicals, veggies like spinach, lettuce, and other produce that are just washed before use, do not.
Europe banned the use of antibiotics in feed in 2006 but in the United States, nearly 70 percent of antibiotics produced annually are given in some form to livestock, most of which are not sick.
There is also no standard methodology that states that organic farmers using manure to treat crops test to make sure that the manure is not laced with antibiotics. Therefore, organic crops could even include these hidden dangers.
Scientists agree that the misuse of antibiotics is contributing to the rise of antibiotic-resistant human diseases. Patients suffer through longer illnesses and higher medical costs, and doctors are left with a dwindling arsenal of drugs to fight disease.